Reviews for In the Middle Distance : Poems

Library Journal Reviews 2006 March #2

"If I go back into memory it's not/ because I like it, but because/ that's where the hard things are." In her sixth collection, Gregg goes again to that difficult place, those places, and we readers are richer for it. Whether sung from a bucolic Greek isle, a lazy Texas border town, or the crowded streets of New York City, these lyrics of tribulation, survival, and salvation are intense and passionate, but still familiar and tangible. In a clear and casual voice, Gregg makes the argument that "Poetry is not made of words." Yet, at the same time, she displays a wonderful agility of diction: "It is possible to be with someone/ who is gone. Like the silence which/ continues here in the desert while/ the night train passes through Marfa/ louder and louder, like the dogs whining/ and barking after the train is gone." These poems prove that the pain of loss and disorientation, along with the resilience that can be derived from hope, allows for a moment's serenity. We can hardly ask more. Gregg is one of the more impressive, generous, and wise of today's front-line poets. Highly recommended for all contemporary poetry collections.-- Louis McKee, Painted Bride Arts Ctr., Philadelphia

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 March #2

The poems of Gregg's eighth collection "go back into memory... not/ because I like it, but because/ that's where the hard things are." Over the course of 59 blunt, terse lyrics, Gregg's speaker traverses Greece, New York and Texas, ruminating over abandonment ("Women have houses now, and children./ I live alone in a kind of luxury"), family ("mother mother mother/ money money money") and the persistence of a departed lover: "You are not even dead yet." Along the way, she repeatedly and pointedly recasts personae from Greek myth as figures from her life--and finds them inadequate: "I don't need Orpheus/ to sing. I walk down the esplanade at night./ I pass one loud bar after another." Gregg's midlife reflections have an edge and voice missing from the many books with similar themes. She draws a compelling irony out of "the pleasure in seeing/ memory through the failure/ of it," particularly in recalling her former partner, "filling me with memories of what/ he used to be. What the French call 'monsters.' " This is a powerful account of facing later life on one's own, while trying to believe that "monuments to eternity can be found, picked up, sat upon while the/ day dies." (Mar. )

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